In 1982, the Ad Council created a public service television advertising campaign to discourage America’s children from engaging in recreational drug use. Championed by First Lady Nancy Reagan, it was part of the U.S. “War on Drugs.” The campaign’s slogan adopted the phrase: “Just Say No.”

Catchy, yes. Effective? Not so much.

The problem was that it wasn’t a very good message. It assumes that it’s easy to say no, but peer pressure to conform makes it difficult to say no. Once a child is in a situation in which he is approached to use drugs, it’s often too late.

In fact, in an ironic twist, the child actors involved in the campaign ended up being illegal drug users. Drew Barrymore, for one. John Alford, for another.

A better campaign would have been to think ahead. Avoid getting into difficult situations in the first place. Say, for example, “Just Stay Away.”

God’s word rings out loud and clear on the dangers of the wrong crowd. “Do not join those who drink too much wine” (Proverbs 23:20) or “My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them” (1:10).

King Solomon wrote those words as warnings to his own teenagers over two thousand years ago. They’re just as relevant today.

Those are the messages we need to give to our children—wisdom from God’s Word, not wisdom from the Ad Council’s.

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